Application Strategy 2022: Arizona elk — sample article

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Arizona's 2022 elk application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2022 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Points System

Note: The online application deadline for Arizona elk is Feb. 8, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Arizona time. You can apply online here.

New for 2022

  • Arizona is offering a new online hunter’s education course. Once completed, one lifetime bonus point for each species will be added to your account. This is a great way to increase the number of bonus points you have and a must if you plan to keep up with other applicants. You must be 18+ to complete the course and the cost is $300 for nonresidents and $150 for residents. It may take two weeks to a month to have the extra point show up in your account. Do not delay in taking the course! 
  • Hunting licenses will be sold online only. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will no longer offer traditional paper licenses sold through licensed dealers. Many current dealers will continue to sell licenses, but they will do so through AZGFD's online purchase system.
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2022, hunters cannot use a trail camera for the purposes of taking or locating wildlife or aiding in the take of wildlife. This is a new rule. Be aware that trail cameras cannot be used for the purpose of scouting for hunts. 
  • Unit 1/2B/2C alternates between early rifle and muzzleloader each year. In 2022, it will offer a muzzleloader hunt and not a rifle hunt.
  • Unit 9 alternates between a rifle and muzzleloader hunt each year. In 2022, it will offer a rifle hunt and not a muzzleloader hunt.
  • Unit 27 alternates between a rifle and muzzleloader hunt each year. In 2022, it will offer a rifle hunt and not a muzzleloader hunt.
  • Unit 4B will offer a new early rifle hunt in 2022.
  • Unit 8 will offer a new early rifle hunt in 2022.

Your GOHUNT Insider account also has the NEW Point Tracker feature. This allows you to enter the number of points you have for each state and species and, as you research through Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, your point total will automatically be highlighted.

How to apply

To apply, visit and login to your AZGFD portal account. If you have not created a portal you will need to take the necessary steps to do so. Once inside your portal click on “Apply For A Draw.”

Now is the time to check your portal and review your bonus point totals. Last year, AZGFD transitioned into a new system and, as such, many applicants reported login issues as well as issues with their bonus points not matching their personal records. Check your points to ensure that you have the proper number of points. If something seems amiss, call AZGFD at 602-942-3000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Do not wait to call if there is an issue. Take care of it well in advance of the application deadline.

Applicants must possess a valid Arizona hunting license to apply for a hunting tag. That license must be valid on the last day of the application period (Feb. 8, 2022). Check your AZGFD portal account. 

State Information

Below you can find important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. Once at the State Profile, you can find even more information on applying in Arizona. You can also view the Arizona Elk Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.

Arizona State Profile Arizona Elk Profile GOHUNT Maps Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply online is Feb. 8, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • The deadline to update credit card information is roughly Feb. 25, 2022.
  • Payment must be made by VISA or Mastercard for online applications.
  • Applicants must have a valid Arizona hunting license to then apply for a permit.
  • There is a $15 nonrefundable application fee per species.
  • Permits are awarded through a hybrid draw system, bonus point draw and a subsequent random draw (see draw system details below for more information).
  • If you need help looking up your Arizona bonus points, check out this article here.
  • The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle drawing will be held in July 2022.

Arizona elk cost

ItemNonresidentNonresident YouthResidentResident Youth
Hunting license$160$5$37$5
Application fee$15$15$13$13
Elk permit$659$650$135$135
Elk (youth only)
PointGuard fee$5$5$5$5

Note: The cost of the permit will only be charged if you are successful in the draw. If you are successful, AZGFD will attempt to charge the card used when you applied. If the card is declined, they will NOT attempt to contact you. They will move past your application to the next applicant in the queue. Make sure the card you use is current and has the room to accommodate the permit(s) you applied for!

The Arizona Draw System

Bonus points: understanding the draw 

Arizona has a modified bonus point system where a portion of the permits are allocated to applicants with the most bonus points who apply for any given hunt and the rest are randomly allocated. In Arizona, they refer to stages of the draw as “passes.” Bonus point permits are awarded in the first pass of the draw.  The second pass is when random permits are awarded. Within the second pass (aka random draw), bonus points are taken into consideration. This means that your odds of drawing get better in the random draw with every bonus point you acquire. An applicant with no points still has a chance in the random draw.

Here are more details of the bonus point system. The system grants an applicant one random number for each bonus point that has been accumulated going into the drawing for that species. Each bonus point random number is in addition to the application random number entry itself. For example, someone with five bonus points would have six random numbers generated for their application. The lowest generated number becomes the application number. When they begin to allocate permits, they start with the applicant who has the lowest number. This system provides applicants with an added chance of receiving a low random number in the draw; hence, improving draw odds. 

Bonus points are species specific. Applicants obtain a bonus point each time they apply and are unsuccessful in the draw. Applicants can apply for “point only” as their first choice, but we only advise that if an applicant cannot afford the time or the cost of the permit if they were to draw it. Remember that Arizona offers a portion of the permits in a random draw and you will automatically get a bonus point if you are unsuccessful in the draw, so it makes sense to apply for hunts and not just a bonus point. Bonus points will be purged if you successfully draw a permit. Bonus points will also be purged if an applicant has failed to apply in the draw for five consecutive years. 

There are two other ways an applicant can gain an additional bonus point. If an applicant has applied for five consecutive years and has completed the hunter’s education course, they could go into a draw with two points already even if they drew a permit the previous year. More information below. 

  • Loyalty bonus point. A loyalty bonus point is an additional bonus point that is awarded after having applied for any given species for five consecutive years. This is a species-specific point and will not be taken away when you draw a tag. It will be purged if you miss a year of applying and would restart the process. Don’t miss a year of applying! 
  • Arizona hunter’s education course bonus point. Arizona offers a permanent bonus point for each species if you complete their hunter’s education course. In the past, you needed to attend and take this course in person in order to obtain the point. That is no longer the case. Starting in November of 2021, you can take their hunter’s education course online. You’ll need to pay the $300 course fee and complete the instructional and test portion of the class. Approximately two weeks to 30 days after you have completed the course, they will update your account with the extra bonus point. This point is permanent and will never be purged. 


Arizona offers a safeguard for applicants who draw a permit and may want to return it in order to have their points restored. This program is called PointGuard. The fee is $5 per species and can be purchased at the same time you apply. If you purchased PointGuard for a permit you drew and decided to return it, it must be done at least one day prior to opening day. You’ll also need to complete the surrender application form. If you use PointGuard, you will have your bonus points restored plus one for that year. You will forfeit the permit and application fees. Also, be aware that PointGuard can only be used one time per species, meaning you cannot draw a permit and return it year after year (retaining your points) until you are ready to hunt.  

Permit splits and allocation

Arizona allocates 20% of the elk and antelope permits in the bonus point pass and 80% in the random pass. Within the 80% (random pass), up to 5% of those can be allocated to nonresidents. Within the 20% (bonus pass), up to 5% can be allocated to nonresidents. Thus, up to 10% of the total permits can be allocated to nonresidents; however, it is not guaranteed. 

Hunt choices  

Applicants can apply for up to five hunt choices on their application. Only your first and second choice are considered before moving to the next application. What that means is an applicant's third, fourth and fifth choice will only be considered if there are leftover permits. Be aware that if you draw any of your choices, your points will be purged. For that reason, we advise applicants to only include first and second choices unless they are willing to burn points on the types of hunts that make it to the leftover list. 

Group applications

Arizona will allow up to four individuals to apply on a group application for elk and antelope. The group application is treated as one application where, if selected, all members of the group would receive a permit. If there are not enough permits to meet the number of applicants on a group application, the application has no chance of being successful. Arizona will not over-allocate the permit quota to accommodate a group application. A group application will have their bonus points averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number (.5 and up would round up to the nearest whole number, .4 and down would round down).  

Youth and mentoring opportunities

Youth can apply for and hunt big game in Arizona at 10 years old. They must have completed a hunter’s education course and purchased an Arizona hunting license. That license is only $5 for youth (10 to 17). We highly recommend that you begin to apply and build points for your youth beginning at age 10. Arizona does offer some “youth only” elk permits, but those are all antlerless hunts. For nonresidents, we recommend applying for antlered permits and building points for your kids. There are better opportunities to hunt cow elk in other states. 

Arizona has a unique program that will allow a parent, grandparent or legal guardian to transfer a permit they have drawn to their youth (10 to 17). The youth must have a valid hunting license and completed hunter’s education if they are younger than 14. 

Arizona's 2022 elk breakdown

Arizona is still one of the top-tier trophy elk hunting destinations in the world. It’s a state where applicants need to do some research and consider their goals before deciding on whether or not to apply. The cost of applying is relatively expensive. It will cost approximately $175 for an adult nonresident to apply for elk. If you decide to apply, you should also apply for any and all species for the additional $15 per species.

Arizona elk permits have the reputation of being notoriously tough to draw. There is some truth to that: the best units and the early archery, rifle and/or muzzleloader hunts have long odds. The reason they are so hard to draw is that the hunting and trophy potential is very good for the lucky permit holders. Whether or not you should apply depends on your goals. If you are relatively new to applying in Arizona and only want to hunt the best of the best, it may not be worth it to continue. Be honest with your objectives and review the Draw Odds to evaluate your Arizona elk strategy. We love Arizona elk hunting and believe it’s worth the money to apply, but be realistic in your expectations if you go down the road with Arizona.

Arizona’s elk hunting structure offers an early archery and rifle hunt as well as a late archery and late rifle hunt in most units. They also offer some muzzleloader hunts. The early hunts often have higher harvest success and the trophy potential is better early. The late hunts can be tough, especially the late archery hunts. Those hunts are spot and stalk — often in rough, remote terrain — and big bulls can be hard to locate consistently that time of year. Many of the better bulls are often broken up by the time the late hunts roll around.  The trade off for applicants is that late season hunts are indeed easier to draw. Most of the late archery hunts can be drawn with fewer than 10 points and a few with as little as three to six points. They can be fun hunts, but review the harvest success trends and realize that there is a good likelihood that you will go home with your permit still intact. The late rifle hunts are good options for applicants without a lot of points. Many of the late rifle hunts are available with seven or more bonus points.

Not every unit in the state produces big bulls, but there are 10 or so that often do offer hunters a chance at a 330” plus bull. Out of those, there are maybe five that offer the chance at an even better bull. Arizona’s antler growth is heavily dependent on the moisture it receives and 2020 was one of the driest on record. This past year was better, with substantial summer monsoonal rains, which certainly helped late antler growth and improved body condition as bulls and cows went into the rut. The past four months have been dry, but with some luck, winter storms will ramp up and hopefully the spring and summer rains will continue in 2022. Overall, the elk herds and antler conditions could be better than they were from 2020 going into 2021. Arizona needs those spring and summer storms, but currently, body conditions appear to be good. We are hopeful that 2022 could still be a good year for antler growth. 

The current drought status in Arizona


2022 Arizona drought monitor status as of January 11. Source: United States Drought Monitor




2021 Arizona drought monitor status from January 19. Source: United States Drought Monitor


2022 top hitlist for hunts to consider for 350+ or better bulls

Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
23 North - ArcherySept. 9 to 22380"+73%75% w/ 19 ptsNA
23 South - ArcherySept. 9 to 22380"+60%100% w/ 19 ptsNA
23 North - RifleSept. 23 to 29380"+87%100% w/ 25 ptsNA
23 South - RifleSept. 23 to 29380"+60%100% w/ 25 ptsNA
23 - Late RifleNov. 25 to Dec. 1380"+43%100% w/ 13 pts100% w/ 21 pts
9 - ArcherySept. 9 to 22370"+49%100% w/ 15 pts100% w/ 23 pts
9 - Early RifleSept. 23 to 29370"+92%100% w/ 23 pts100% w/ 26 pts
9 - Late RifleNov. 25 to Dec. 1370"+31%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 10 pts
27 - ArcherySept. 9 to 22370"+32%100% w/ 11 pts100% w/ 18 pts
27 - Early RifleSept. 23 to 29370"+68%100% w/ 22 pts100% w/ 24 pts
27 - Late RifleNov. 25 to Dec. 1370"+63%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 14 pts
10 - ArcherySept. 9 to 22360"+28%100% w/ 14 pts100% w/ 22 pts
10 - Early RifleSept. 23 to 29360"+69%100% w/ 24 pts100% w/ 27 pts
10 - MuzzleloaderNov. 4 to 10360"+58%100% w/ 9 pts100% w/ 19 pts
3A/3C - ArcherySept. 9 to 22360"+66%100% w/ 14 pts80% w/ 22 pts
3A/3C - Early RifleSept. 23 to 29360"+81%100% w/ 25 pts100% w/ 26 pts
1/2B/2C - ArcherySept. 9 to 22360"+55%100% w/ 13 pts100% w/ 20 pts
1/2B/2C - MuzzleloaderSept. 23 to 29360"+91%
100% w/ 20 pts100% w/ 24 pts
17A/17B/18B/19B/20A/20C - ArcherySept. 9 to 29360"+55%100% w/ 9 ptsNA
15A/15BE/15BW/18ASept. 9 to 22360"+28%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 21 pts



Use the Detailed Draw Odds view to look at draw trends and see where you can expect to draw in the maximum points pool and random draw.

How to uncover hidden gem Arizona elk areas

The hunts in the table above are well known to produce great bulls and the odds of drawing those reflect that. There are many units that most hunters know very little about with far better odds of drawing. There are also late season rifle and late season archery permits in almost every unit. Even the units listed above with great trophy potential have late season hunts that can be drawn with far fewer points. Within those parameters (lesser known units with slightly less trophy potential and late season hunts) are where the hidden gems are. 

Use Filtering 2.0 to filter through these different parameters and find hunts that may be outside the box of what other hunters are focusing on.

To get started with Filtering 2.0:

  • Select state.
  • Select species (elk)
  • Adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 310”+).
  • Click whether you are a resident or nonresident and indicate how many points you currently possess.
  • Select your minimum percentage of odds for drawing the tag. This can be very good for weeding out units with easier to draw tags.
  • Select which season(s) you want to hunt. Have other hunts going on throughout the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in season that time of the year.
  • Choose what harvest percentage you would like to see in the units.
  • Choose the public land percentages you would like to see.
  • Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in-depth profiles containing valuable information to help you decide on the best choice for you 

In the table below we break out some of the best hunt options in the three to six point range and then the seven to 12 point range. 

Good hunts in the 3 to 6 bonus point range (2021)

Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
6B - Late Archery320"+37%100% w/ 4 pts100% w/ 5 pts
7E - Late Archery330"+13%100% w/ 0 pts100% w/ 5 pts
22 North - Late Archery310"+23%91% w/ 3 pts62% w/ 3 pts
22 South - Late Archery310"+25%91% w/ 3 pts100% w/ 4 pts
4B - Late Archery320"+20%100% w/ 5 pts100% w/ 5 pts
5A - Late Archery340"+19%100% w/ 6 pts17% w/ 3 pts
5BS - Late Archery340"+14%100% w/ 7 pts20% w/ 6 pts
7W - Late Archery340"+16%100% w/ 5 pts100% w/ 7 pts
23 - Late Archery380"+34%100% w/ 5 pts71% w/ 6 pts
3B - Muzzleloader330"+25%100% w/ 5 pts100% w/ 6 pts
7E - Late Rifle330"+22%100% w/ 5 pts100% w/ 5 pts
22 North - Late Rifle310"+38%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 7 pts
22 North - Late Rifle310"+23%100% w/ 6 pts100% w/ 6 pts
17A/17B/18B, 19B, 20A, 20C360"+46%100% w/ 6 pts100% w/ 6 pts
4A - Late Rifle320"+24%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
4B North - Late Rifle320"+60%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
4B - Late Rifle320"+53%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
5A - Late Rifle340"+36%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 7 pts


Good archery hunt options to consider in the 7 to 12 bonus point range

Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
1/2B/2C360"+55%100% w/ 13 pts82% w/ 18 pts
3B330"+37%100% w/ 11 pts100% w/ 17 pts
4A320"+36%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 14 pts
4B320"+34%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 12 pts
5A340"+31%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 13 pts
5BN340"+42%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 17 pts
5BS340"+50%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 14 pts
6A330"+30%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 10 pts
6B320"+19%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 10 pts
7E330"+16%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 8 pts
7E - Wilderness330"+53%100% w/ 6 ptsNA
7W340"+21%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 17 pts
8350"+36%100% w/ 9 pts100% w/ 14 pts
11M320"+39%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 9 pts
11M320"+32%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts


Good firearm hunt options to consider in the 5 to 13 bonus point range

Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
1/2B/2C - Late Rifle360"+76%100% w/ 11 pts100% w/ 14 pts
3A/3C - Late Rifle360"+44%100% w/ 9 pts100% w/ 9 pts
3B - Late Muzzleloader330"+25%100% w/ 5 pts100% w/ 6 pts
4A - Late Rifle320"+24%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
4BN - Early Rifle320"+56%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 10 pts
4BN - Late Rifle320"+60%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
4B - Late Rifle320"+53%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
5A - Late Rifle340"+36%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 7 pts
5BN/5BS - Late Rifle340"+40%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 9 pts
6A - Late Rifle330"+43%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 8 pts
6A - Muzzleloader330"+52%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 10 pts
6B - Late Rifle320"+43%100% w/ 7 pts88% w/ 7 pts
7W - Late Rifle340"+29%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 8 pts
8 - Late Rifle350"+30%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 8 pts
9 - Late Rifle370"+31%100% w/ 8 pts100% w/ 10 pts
10 - Late Rifle360"+36%100% w/ 8 pts86% w/ 12 pts
19A - Late Rifle310"+54%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 8 pts
21 - Late Rifle340"+24%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 10 pts
22N - Late Rifle310"+38%100% w/ 7 pts100% w/ 7 pts
22N - Late Rifle310"+23%100% w/ 6 pts100% w/ 6 pts
22S - Late Rifle310"+58%100% w/ 9 pts100% w/ 12 pts
27 - Late Rifle370"+63%100% w/ 10 pts100% w/ 14 pts


2022 maximum resident bonus points for elk: 29
2022 maximum nonresident bonus points for elk: 32


Managing points and expectations

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. Arizona’s bonus point system is more than 30 years old and, unfortunately, there are a lot of applicants in the system with a substantial number of points. Realistically, the odds of drawing the top tier early season hunts with less than a couple decades’ worth of points is less than 1%.  If you have relatively few points in Arizona, you should really consider looking towards hunts that are outside of the box — otherwise, you may never draw.

Below are the number of applicants at each bonus point level going into the 2022 draw. These can and will change some as many applicants will complete the hunter’s education course online and add an additional point to their total.

Find your draw odds

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